Why the Delay on Riser Projects?
November 1, 2014
This year we scheduled for two hot water “risers” to be replaced: the ‘12/’14 unit bathrooms from floors 30 to 55 (the “high zone”), and the ‘06/’07 guest baths/kitchens from floors 3 to 29 (the “low zone”). The risers are the main lines that bring water to your units, in this case the hot water for bathrooms and kitchens, which one by one are being replaced. We completed the ‘12/’14 riser but will not begin the ‘06/’07. There is good reason behind this delay – it is a bit of a jigsaw puzzle to explain, so please forgive me ahead of time for jumping around a bit. It all started with the main drain lines for the building. Over the past few years our staff has struggled at times with back-ups and leaking from the primary drain “loop” resting in the space above the ceiling in the main lobby. This loop is where all the water from your tubs, toilets and sinks ends up and joins into one great big pipe, which then exits the building as waste. This loop has become more of a challenge to maintain as it has aged, and even now our plumber is somewhat cautious when flushing it out. Some spots have become relatively fragile, and even performing everyday maintenance can be a bit risky. Last year in fact, a large section was found to be weakening at an alarming rate. So a portion of the loop was replaced between the party room and lobby, directly over and through the health club weight room. This year, as our staff has conducted repairs and completed the usual preventative flush downs of this loop – to help keep your drains draining – we started to see similar weaknesses. As we conducted work in some locations, the loop would begin experiencing leaks. So, preliminary plans began to take shape to recommend full replacement of this loop in 2015. I mentioned the space above the ceiling in the lobby. It does not just contain the drain loop. It also contains the riser loops for all the kitchens and baths from floors 3 to 29. The main hot and cold water lines come up, and join with the risers on this loop. At each riser there is a main valve which creates the junction between the respective cold and hot water loop and the riser. With the exception of a few sections of the hot water loop and the handful of valves that have been replaced with some of the riser projects, the balance is original to the construction of the building. Along with the drain loop, the riser loops have presented their fair share of challenges over the years. From time to time, you have probably seen workers in the lobby on the scissor lift performing repairs and patching the ceiling. Sometimes this has been in conjunction with a riser project, when the main valve on the loop for the riser is being replaced. Other times have been a result of leaks from a unit that have come all the way down the pipe chase and resulted in lobby ceiling damage. But a lot of times it is related to a weak spot in one of these loops. Typically, the only way to conduct repairs is to get up there, open the ceiling, and do the necessary work. Fast forward to today, and we are looking at our calendar for riser replacements. This is the last piece of the puzzle I mentioned. The next six risers we are scheduled to replace are all on the “low zone”. The loop serving these six risers, rests just above the lobby ceiling with the drain loop. So, as the plans begin to take shape to address the drain loop, an opportunity presents itself while the ceiling is open to replace the balance of the low zone hot water riser loop and all the valves serving the remaining hot water risers between floors 3 and 29. In the short term, the disadvantage is we are putting the remaining risers back a year. The advantages are pretty clear; we eliminate the need to open the ceiling every time we are replacing one of the low zone risers, saving time, money and headaches, while replacing the aging and fragile drain loop at the same time.